Faust and Mephistopheles

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 1, 2015

Wow! This isn’t successful in a lot of ways. It’s hard to tell who is who, and what is actually happening. But here is the Méliès match cut in a way that not even Méliès used it. In part we’re seeing the early film thing that I keep talking about over and over, in which a familiar, pre-existing source is brought to the aid of the narratively unformed new medium. That familiarity covers up the joins, and allows the viewer to fill in the gaps. So, this is a digest, and a travesty when compared with the expanse and gravity of the original.

It’s also a true adaptation, even a true transformation. They’re not finding cinematic equivalents to Goethe. They’re soloing freely on his themes at the same time that they’re actually making a movie. We speed through this vast narrative, leaping from scene to scene like lightning. The cuts aren’t stunts, but metamorphoses. If the sense is unclear, then the composition (including a couple of very striking deep ones) and movement, through frames and across cuts, is very confident indeed. Very exciting!